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After a sluggish start to the season, the Washington Nationals seemingly are turning the corner. The Nationals behind another stellar outing from starting pitching, best the Arizona Diamondbacks 2-1 on Saturday winning their third straight in Arizona and handing the D-Backs their first series loss of the season.
Stephen Strasburg followed suit behind Tanner Roark and Max Scherzer, pitching 6 2/3 innings allowing one earned run off five hits and walking one while striking out nine. The Nationals’ bullpen held the one-run lead for the remaining 2 1/3 innings to give Washington the win.
— Nationals on MASN (@masnNationals) May 12, 2018
The Nationals’ starting pitching has stifled the D-Backs potent offense in the first three outings of the series. The trio of Roark, Scherzer, and Strasburg have gone 20 2/3 innings allowing three runs, nine hits, walking one and striking out 24.
What’s amazing, Washington needed every bit of that starting fire power as they won those games by the scores of 2-1 (twice) and 3-1. Arizona leads the National League in team ERA, however, the Nationals entered Saturday’s contest first in the NL in ERA among starters at 2.98. That number is sure to lower after Strasburg’s performance.
The Nats’ rotation has been tremendous. And the bullpen has really started clicking. The Nats scored seven runs these three games in AZ so far, and they won ‘em all.
— Dan Kolko (@masnKolko) May 12, 2018
The Nationals have backed their strong pitching with timely hits. Saturday’s heroes were Bryce Harper and Anthony Rendon.
Harper got a RBI-double to break the scoreless tie. The Nationals ultimately loaded the bases with Harper reaching third with one out. However Diamondbacks Troy Scribner struck out Andrew Stevenson and Michael A. Taylor to strand the runners.
A.J. Pollock knocked in Paul Goldschmidt in the third off a RBI-double to tie the game at 1-1. Rendon answered in the fourth with bases loaded, grounding out into a fielder’s choice to short. Pedro Severino scored as Rendon beat out the double play to give Washington back the one-run lead.
Strasburg took the mound and put the clamp Arizona’s offense. Sammy Solis and Shawn Kelley each provided 2/3 innings and Ryan Madson recorded his third save of the season closing out the ninth. Behind their strong pitching, the Nationals overcame going 2-for-11 with runners in scoring position and leaving the bases loaded in both the third and fourth innings.
Nonetheless, the Nationals (23-18) beat a good team in Arizona. They did something no other team has been able to do up until this point — beat the D-Backs in a series. The win was the Nationals’ fourth straight over Arizona, going back to their series finale on Apr. 29 back in D.C.
The Nationals are 12-2 from the point on, and have momentarily climbed one game behind the first-place Atlanta Braves in the NL East with a chance to be just 0.5 games back by the end of the day. Not bad for a team that was once 11-16.